A new woman- + veteran-owned entrepreneurship center’s coming to Ensley

Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship
Future home of the Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship in Ensley. (Kathy Scarbrough)

You don’t have to be around Kathy Scarbrough for long to realize she’s a woman on a mission. In July 2021, she bought a commercial building in Ensley and she’s got big plans for the space. Keep reading for all the details.

Meet Kathy Scarbrough, the woman behind Ensley’s new center for entrepreneurship

Kathy Scarbrough
Kathy Scarbrough the day she closed on the building. (Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise / Faceook)

With a background like hers, Kathy Scarbrough is more than qualified to start a center for entrepreneurship in Ensley. Before deciding to open the Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, she had a long and decorated career in the US Navy + Marine Corps Reserves. After leaving the Navy, she worked as a supervisor for the Transportation Security Administration in Birmingham and received Transportation Security Officer of the Year in 2011. 

Next, she opened several businesses. Her current enterprise is Mighty Muscles Facilities Management, and she’s launched a community initiative called “Beyond Start-Up,” which provides small business support to businesses beyond the startup phase, designed to help businesses transition into government contracting and hiring.

Scarbrough’s vision is “to bring a really robust entrepreneurship program to Ensley.”

The Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise

window in Ensley
Some of the values guiding the vision. (Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise / Facebook)

The center, which will hopefully also be a working museum, will offer:

  • Office spaces with state-of-the-art WiFi for businesses, including top of the line Internet security features
  • Podcast studio + media center
  • Outdoor courtyard
  • Small business training
  • Government contracting support to help business owners maneuver through the government contracting space, learn about the certifications and really scale and grow
  • Workforce development with training for local residents to provide admin support to small businesses—the goal is to encourage local small businesses to hire locally

Location: 611 19th Street Ensley, AL 35218
Social: Facebook | Instagram
Architect: Tracy Etheridge of SquareArc Architecture in Helena
Donate: The Penny Foundation | for large donations + ACH donations, contact The Penny Foundation

Flagship tenants

  • Mighty Muscles Facilities Management is Scarbrough’s own business, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOB) and a Women-Owned Business (WOB) that specializes in government, commercial and residential full facilities management solutions.
  • Delights from Delore is a bakery that will feature fresh baked goods and a healthy breakfast and lunch option in a food desert.
  • Green Inclusion is a hair care manufacturing company.

A working museum

Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship
Can’t wait to see this old building once it’s been transformed. (Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise / Facebook)

One really interesting piece of the project is that Scarbrough aims to turn it into a working museum. The building was originally a substation for Birmingham Railway Light & Electric Company, formed in 1890, which used to run streetcars throughout the city.

Scarbrough is in negotiations with the National Park Service and the Alabama Preservation Society to restore the building in a historical manner. Because the whole district is historic and the building’s on the national registry, Scarbrough wants to make it a staple in the community and help bring traffic back to the area.

The outside of the building

Scarbrough Center
Soon the space will transform. (Scarbrough Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise / Facebook)

Lest you get the idea that the Center will be all business, Scarbrough has big plans for the outside, as well.

There will be a mural and a musician’s courtyard with sculptures of some of Ensley’s jazz artists, done by The Flourish, a non-profit organization that empowers the youth of color through collaborative art. Scarbrough plans to have live jazz at noon so patrons can sit outside and eat their food.

We can’t wait to watch this project come to life.

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Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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